A Japanese town that achieved a bloody fame for its annual dolphin slaughter has announced plans to open a marine park where visitors can swim with the mammals – as well as eat their meat – while the hunt continues in a nearby bay.
Taiji town official Masaki Wada announced the ambitious plans which could see a 28 hectare area netted off at the entrance to Moriura Bay, on Monday
“We already use dolphins and small whales as a source of tourism in the cove where dolphin-hunting takes place,” he told AFP, as reported by The Japan Times.
A diver hauls a dolphin from the blood-filled water in Taiji in 2003
“In the summer, swimmers can enjoy watching the mammals that are released from a partitioned-off space.
“But we plan to do it on a larger scale. This is part of Taiji’s long-term plan of making the whole town a park, where you can enjoy watching the marine mammals while tasting various marine products, including whale and dolphin meat.”
The annual slaughter of dolphins was highlighted by 2009’s eco-documentary The Cove, which chronicled efforts to end the senseless slaughter of 23,000 dolphins annually in the coastal village.
The mammals are corralled into Hatekejiri Bay, where a few dozen are selected for sale to aquariums and marine parks, while the rest are stabbed to death for meat.
The film employed the skills of an undercover SWAT team by using hidden microphones and hidden cameras.
This cove in Taiji town is where the marine park is planned
“From our point of view, this is just an extension of Taiji’s overwhelmingly ignorant view that whales and dolphins exist merely to entertain or feed them, The Environmental Investigation Agency’s senior campaigner Clare Perry told HuffPost UK.
“Not content with slaughtering them by the thousands, capturing live dolphins, ripping them from their families and submitting them to a lifetime in captivity, they are now trying to make an extra buck by building a larger ‘park’ so people can swim with the dolphins whose relatives are being killed just round the corner.
“Aside from the obvious welfare considerations, I have a very real concern that this will encourage larger captures to feed a new demand, putting further pressure on these populations that are already depleted from years of over-hunting. “
A spokesman for PETA told us: "Turning Taiji into a tourist destination where unsuspecting visitors swim with dolphins in the same waters that have turned red from the animals' massacred families sounds like something out of a horror film.
Dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, right, holds a banner reading: 'Save Dolphins in Japan' as he joins Japanese activist Satoshi Komiyama with an anti-dolphin hunt message in Taiji, in September
"The Cove exposed the Taiji dolphin slaughter, taking us back to the unenlightened times of Moby-Dick, and recently Blackfish has rightly turned people away from marine animal parks that snatch infant whales and dolphins from their ocean homes.
"These magnificent animals suffer immeasurably in captivity since it is impossible to meet their psychological and physiological needs. In the wild, dolphins swim together in family pods up to 100 miles a day.
"They navigate by bouncing sonar waves off objects to determine location and distance. When dolphins are kept captive, even the largest pen or tank is a hideous prison. Buying a ticket to a marine park or swimming with captive dolphins condemns these beautiful animals to a lifetime of misery and deprivation."
Undercover photos revealed the shocking slaughter of Pilot whales
Trapped with no escape, the helpless creatures are pictured clinging close to one another as they spent their remaining few hours together before being dragged to shore and butchered.
Despite the intergovernmental International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) ban on commercial whaling since 1986, Japan has continued to slaughter whales, having ruthlessly exploited a scientific research loophole in order to do so. Since 1986, Japan has killed 14,000 of them.
The country continues to hunt whales using the scientific research provision in the agreement conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research, which activists have slammed for being a thinly disguised commercial whaling operation at worst.